August 31, 2003

Boston's 8-4 loss to the Yankees Sunday afternoon effectively gave the Yankees their sixth consecutive A.L. East title. The Red Sox stand 5½ games behind with 26 to play (and 1½ GB Seattle for the wild card). Three of those 26 games are next weekend in New York and even if Boston sweeps that series – a laughable thought after today's pathetic display – I'm skeptical of their chances to win the division.

A paucity of quality at-bats, shitty fielding, ineffective pitching and a piss-poor lineup – I think that about covers it – combined to giftwrap a win (and the series) to the hated Yankees, with one of the most reviled men in Red Sox history leading the charge. And when he left the game in the 7th inning, most of the 34,482 fans stood and cheered him. They stood and they cheered until he reemerged from the opposing dugout (prompted by the Gerbil) and tipped his Yankees cap to them – and then they cheered some more. … Fans at SoSH are divided on the subject. See comments at the end of the game thread and then here and here; there are also a few comments at Your Turn.

Many people have said they/the fans were cheering Clemens's Red Sox accomplishments and his career as one of the game's greatest pitchers. Fine. But in the context of today's game – and what it meant to the Red Sox's playoff chances – their applause was de facto cheering for what he did on the mound today. They are inseparable. A SoSH poster named "Pandemonium67" said: "If a high-ranking U.S. officer defects and joins the enemy, you don't cheer him when he visits the UN under diplomatic immunity." ... Bill Simmons wrote two must-read columns about his feeling towards the Texas Con Man.

And since we'll be reading about twilight this and twilight that in tomorrow's papers, I thought I'd drag this out. I wrote it back on May 23 and posted it at my old Pedro site. It was news to me at that time, so I figure it's probably news to a lot of Red Sox fans:

History is a funny thing. ... This SoSH thread includes a link to some Boston stories when Roger Clemens packed his bags for Toronto and includes Dan Duquette's "twilight of his career" comment in its proper context:

End of an Era; No return fire from Sox; Brass tried to keep ace
By Michael Silverman, Boston Herald
December 14, 1996

The Red Sox brass kept a mostly stiff upper lip yesterday, putting the shiniest gloss possible on the news that lifelong Sox Roger Clemens had left the fold.

Restraining themselves from returning the type of salvos that Clemens threw at the club, and particularly Dan Duquette, during his press conference in Toronto, the general manager and CEO John Harrington were more subtle.

The Sox were officially "disappointed" but far from devastated at losing Clemens, who, over 13 seasons, compiled a 192-111 record, three Cy Youngs, two 20-strikeout games and a share of the team lead with Cy Young for most wins and shutouts (38).

"The Red Sox and our fans were fortunate to see Roger Clemens play in his prime and we had hoped to keep him in Boston during the twilight of his career," said Duquette, who joined Harrington on a conference call yesterday afternoon. "We just want to let the fans know that we worked extremely hard to sign Roger Clemens. . . . We made him a substantial, competitive offer, by far the most money ever offered to a player in the history of the Red Sox franchise.

"Unfortunately, we just couldn't get together. We were hoping he could finish his career as a Red Sox and we also wanted him to establish a relationship beyond his playing career. We wanted him to have the status of a Ted Williams, but at the end of the day we couldn't get it done." ...


In the words of Mel Allen, How about that! It turns out that the "twilight" Duquette was talking about was not 1994-96, but from 1997 on (if Clemens had decided to stay in Boston), which makes perfect sense. And his infamous comment was made AFTER Clemens had signed with the Blue Jays, not during contract negotiations as everyone on the planet believes (and will continue to believe). Just another example of the mind-boggling anti-Duquette bias from the Boston media, which spread like a cancer to the national media. This particular strain is still infecting us seven years later.

P.S. Another poster in that thread wrote: "I have a video interview after Roger had his 2nd 20k game and he says 'I knew the win would be emotional as I know I'm winding down' and that was in 1996." ... Searching the net, I found this quote from the day of the 20K game [September 18, 1996]: "I know I'm winding down and the wins haven't fallen my way this year like I would've hoped to, but now that I have to a chance to obtain that (record), I'm trying my best to make it worthwhile." Also, this one from the Boston Globe: "If you work hard enough, good things will happen to you. I know I'm winding down. The wins haven't fallen my way this year.''

Reading this again on August 31, it sounds like Clemens was agreeing with Duquette that his career was winding down. But remember, it doesn't matter what actually happened – just keep believing the sports media when they tell you their version of events. It makes for a better story.

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